The Hindu festival of Diwali is observed during the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November).
The Sanskrit term Diwali simply translates to “a row of lights”
There are several alleged origins to Diwali. Some believe it’s a celebration of the marriage between Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu however, on the same day Krishna killed the demon Narakasura and Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after overpowering the demon King Ravana. In neighbouring Bengal, the festival is dedicated to the Goddess Kali.
Irrespective the overall theme is universal: the day celebrates the power of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.
Preparations for this five-day celebration include paying off old debts, cleaning the home and buying new clothes. It’s also a custom to buy gold. Homes are lit from outside with many ghee lamps to invite prosperity. Fireworks are lit and people unite regardless of colour, creed or caste. Sweet treats are offered and a vegetarian banquet is laid.
Having been fortunate enough to witness this illuminating festival in Delhi in 1993 it remains one of my favourite Hindu festivals that I continue to observe here in the UK. It’s a festival that is celebrated not only by Hindus but also Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs throughout the world.
What does Diwali mean to me?
For us here in the UK Diwali falls during autumn- a time for trees to shed their leaves as the nights draw in and we have time to reflect.
I take this opportunity to prepare for the approach of winter, take stock of the year so far, the knowledge that I have gained and the lessons learnt to date. For me this year has been a truly testing one, yet Diwali permits me the time to reflect on just how much I have achieved. I am grateful for the experience both good and bad and the love and compassion from my tribe that allowed me to survive the darkness and come back into the light.
Love & light